John Betjeman Award

The John Betjeman Award

“Places of worship are… the history of English art displayed in living form…” - Sir John Betjeman

Left and Right: Terracotta details on St Pancras, Euston Road, conserved as part of the Portico Project.
Centre: Judge Rachel Morely with representatives of St Pancras, Euston Road, 2017 winner

Photo credit: the SPAB (St Pancras, Euston Road)

John Betjeman Award

The award is given to celebrate excellence in the conservation and repair of places of worship of any faith in England and Wales (including Isle of Man). It recognises and rewards the highest standards of conservation craftsmanship and the winning project is publicised as an example to others of good practice. The Award takes the form of a scroll featuring a specially commissioned print by John Piper of the interior of Inglesham Church, a building much loved by Sir John Betjeman.The award is presented at the SPAB members weekend each summer.


The Award is made for the repair or conservation of the fabric, fittings or furnishings of historic churches, chapels or other faith buildings in England or Wales, which remain in use for worship. However, cathedrals of any denomination are not eligible.
It is not essential that the building is listed as being of architectural or historic interest. The age or architectural significance of the building is less important than the quality of the repair.


The Award is made to the place of worship and not to any individual responsible for the work. It celebrates the project, the building, and the community that cares for it. The Award is given for specific repair to, or conservation of, a single element of the building, rather than a general programme of works.  Repair work of any scale is eligible, but it must be to the fabric of the building (e.g. roof, tower, wall, floor, window) or to a significant item of fixed internal fitting or furnishing (e.g. screen, monument, tomb, pews, pulpit). Work to enlarge or extend a place of worship, to rearrange its internal space, or to alter or adapt its fittings or furnishings is not eligible. The work must have received appropriate approval (Faculty or equivalent permission / listed building consent) and have been completed within the previous 18 months.  

The closing date for entries is 20th February 2018.

Find out more

There is more information on the John Betjeman Award flyer.
Please contact with any queries.
Download a 2018 entry form.
Download The Purpose of the SPAB. This document is also available in Welsh.

2017 Winner

From a shortlist of three impressive projects, the judges selected The Portico Project at St Pancras, Euston Road, London as this year’s winner. The award was presented to the team from St Pancras at the SPAB Members’ Meeting in York on 10 June.

The Greek Revival ‘new church’ of St Pancras (1819-22 by William and Henry Inwood) was built to serve the growing population of the Duke of Bedford’s “New Road” estate. This striking building, with its distinctive caryatid porches, became a landmark on the congested Euston Road, but years of pollution have been taking their toll on its fabric. As part of the Portico Project, architects Alan Chandler (Arts Lettres Techniques) and Marcus Chantry (B2) have meticulously cleaned and repaired the roof parapet and terracotta decoration of the church’s Ionic west portico, working closely with specialists Pierra Restoration, leadworkers M S Lock & Sons, conservator Sally Strachey and Darwen Terracotta.

The judges agreed that the work was an excellent example of good practice in sensitive repair – well-executed and based on a sound understanding of the building and the materials. They were impressed not only by the quality of the work carried out but also by what the project team characterised as “the spirit of collaboration” in devising sympathetic solutions to the conservation challenges presented. 

Alan Chandler commented: “This award will support our efforts in securing future funding to continue out work to the same standards – such recognition is a great way for the SPAB to help sustain the repair of beautiful buildings."

The Conservation & Repair of Decorative Terracotta - Lunchtime CPD Session Tuesday 28th November

The SPAB will be running a lunchtime CPD session on The Conservation & Repair of Decorative Terracotta on Tuesday 28th November, with speakers and examples from this year's winning project. For more information see the flyer. The session can be also be booked online

2017 Shortlist

The judges selected a shortlist of three buildings to visit.

Blessed Virgin Mary, Portbury, Somerset – re-roofing the chancel, using on the south flank a quantity of Red Pennant tilestone salvaged from the existing roof and, as this distinctive stone is no longer quarried, on the north slope sandstone tiles sourced from Herefordshire as the closest geological and aesthetic match.

Holy Trinity, Torbryan, Devon – repair, stabilisation and reinstatement of two painted panels from the fifteenth century rood screen. Already suffering from beetle holes, the panels were further damaged when they were kicked out of the screen and stolen in 2013. Having deteriorated before they were recovered in 2015, the panel fragments required re-assembly and an additional supporting structure to enable them to go back into the screen. 

St Pancras, Euston Road, London - The Portico Project, to repair the roof, stonework and terracotta decoration of the western portico.